Being a fat woman on the internet exposes you to a lot of fuckwittery. It feels like every day, there’s some egregiousness that the plus-sized community (or, at least, the people I follow within the plus-sized community) are getting up in arms about. Most of the time, this seems to come from plus-sized brands. You’d think that the people who were so keen to take our money would be the ones who understood us best. Unfortunately, if I had a pound for every time I’ve seen a plus-sized brand put their foot in their mouth, I would probably have enough cash to start my own collection.
The latest example of this is ASOS. Before I get started, let me say that I love ASOS. 80% of my clothes come from their Curve collection which stocks some of the best plus-sized pieces on the market. I’ve really like how they’ve used plus-sized model Felicity Hayward as one of their stylists and their Autumn/Winter 2015 look book with blogger Gabi Gregg was absolutely gorgeous. So, when their recent magazine landed on my doormat, I looked forward to seeing their newest selection of on trend plus-sized pieces. I mean, they have one of the largest selections of plus-sized clothes available. Surely, they’d feature them in a magazine they send out to thousands of subscribers?
Well, no. I did a full audit of their magazine and it featured nothing from their Curve collection. Not one piece. In fact, the only place where I saw a plus-sized woman featured in the magazine was in a cartoon from Cécile Dormeau on the last page. I asked ASOS why this was the case, and didn’t get a reply (although to be honest, I didn’t expect one.) What’s most galling about this is that this edition was devoted to representation in the media and inspiring women. How can a brand claim to be committed to representation when its magazine excludes a large section of its customer base?
It’s not just ASOS who are guilty of this. Too many magazines, websites and TV programmes which claim to speak for women have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to anything plus-sized. Yesterday, I saw that Navabi had launched a #moreplusplease campaign, dedicated to helping larger women gain greater representation in the media. They surveyed 12 magazines and discovered that only 8% of weekly magazines featured plus-sized women. This fell to 2% in editorials in monthly magazines. The media may be getting excited about size 14 Ashley Graham being featured in Sports Illustrated, but let’s be clear – she is the exception, not the rule.
It’s a sad fact of life that many plus-sized women can’t boycott ASOS because in doing so, they’d be boycotting one of the few places where they can buy affordable, fashionable clothes (particularly if they’re over a size 24). But if brands are so keen to earn the plus-sized pound, they have to work harder for us. It’s not enough to pay lip-service to fat women while refusing to stock their plus-sized ranges in their stores. And we’re entitled to get angry when we see so few media outlets featuring plus-sized fashion. So, ASOS, raise your game. And brands, if you’re fed up with fat women talking about how they feel under appreciated, just think how tired we are of constantly having to say it.